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JUL
04
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Community Water Fluoridation – Campaigning With Fortitude

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If you check out the word fortitude you get a sense of the characteristics necessary to campaign on Public Health. Resilience, endurance, perseverance, patience, tenacity, resolve, determination, grit and pluck. I wish we’d looked this up in 2012 when we started all of this – we may have decided to duck the challenge. We didn’t, and now we know why fortitude is essential, necessary, imperative, obligatory paramount, courage over a long period, plucky………

 

Back to 2012 then - let’s fire up the De Lorean although for the petrol heads it’s a metaphorical one as we know they stopped making them in 1983 which coincidentally was the same year that McColl v Strathclyde set a 201 day record for any legal case in Scotland over you guessed it Community Water Fluoridation. Manchester City win their first league title in 44 years, the Olympics come to London, Bruce Springsteen releases Land of Hope and Dreams and Hull LDC wake up.

Hull LDC met at the Ionians Rugby Club back then and that evening we meant business. Ionians were known for their love of democracy, philosophy the arts and pleasure. We were more in to treating our patients and staying healthy and solvent as NHS Practitioners but we did enjoy a beer. That night we were fed up as usual. Fed up with the tsunami of decay and the human consequences, the pain, the extractions the relentless tide of poor dental health. We were all very committed to prevention. We were all very committed to our patients and to the community of Hull. But we felt powerless and we knew we needed change. Hull has very poor oral health and is one of the most deprived areas in England. We understand the social health gradient now, but we were embedded in it in 2012 (as we still are) and we finally decided to do something. This isn’t surprising. People from Hull have a track record of standing up. In 1642 Hull refused the King entry to the City even though he turned up personally, endured a long siege militarily outnumbered by 2:1 and finally saw off the threat. That definitely takes pluck, grit, and fortitude.

Over a pint of bitter and a sandwich we voted to try and drive a Fluoridation agenda. We would start with a letter to the BDJ and publish an e – petition. So we did, convinced in our own minds that by the next AGM we would have cracked it.

We even developed a QR code link to the e- petition on the Petition Parliament site. Like a deluded punter down the bookies – we couldn’t lose could we?

Inertia

The BDJ printed the letter and we waited for the e-petition to take off, soar,go viral. But it didn’t and in October six months after our rallying call for something to happen, it closed on 315 signatures.

Petition

So in October 2012 it seemed like Hull LDC were standing at the Fluoridation barricades alone or at least there were only 315 of us. Then the phone rang in Reception and my Nurse whispered in my ear – “there’s a Prof on the phone who wants to speak to you about your letter in the Journal.” I finished my fifth extraction on a child that morning and took the call.

 

To be continued...

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1426 Hits
JAN
24

Tackling Global Dental Decay - Humble Foundation

Tackling Global Dental Decay - Humble Foundation

In developing countries, oral health services are limited to regional or central hospitals in urban areas. Even where dental assistance can be found, little priority is given to preventative or restorative treatments; many African, Asian and Latin American countries solely offer pain relief or emergency services.
 

In Africa, there is a ratio of one dentist per 150,000 people – in developed countries it’s one per 2,000[1]. Sadly though, preventive dentistry is even more crucial to these remote areas of our world, because there are far fewer dentists to treat oral diseases. Dental pain is of course unpleasant for everyone but in the UK the inconvenience of booking and then attending an appointment is the main concern. However, for someone without access to dentistry, their suffering constitutes chronic pain, occupational and social limitations and can even be life threatening.
 

Most concerning is children’s oral health. Tooth decay is a widespread childhood disease, from which 60-90% of schoolchildren are suffering around the world[2]. A study across two decades from 1990 to 2010 in London, with close to 3 million subjects found that 20% of children had dental decay in their deciduous teeth[3]. In The Gambia, 86% of 5 year-olds have decay in four or five teeth and half of those clean their teeth with chewing sticks: the other half simply don’t clean their teeth at all. In Cambodia 93% of 6 year-olds average 9 teeth with cavities and 60% of mothers reported their children had suffered dental pain in the last six months.
 

Dental decay is a lifestyle-related disease that is increasing in the far reaches of the world where traditional diets are being replaced with cheaper, imported food products containing high levels of sucrose and carbohydrates. Also, junk food manufacturers vigorously campaign their products towards vulnerable groups, such as children. In the UK we have vastly improved levels of sugar consumption when compared to a country like Mexico, but it is still double the WHO recommendation of 18kg per person, per year.
 

Along with the spread of unhealthy eating habits, developing countries are contending with other exacerbating factors like lack of access to:

·      Fluoride – An average UK worker need only work for an hour to accrue enough fluoride toothpaste for a year, the average Kenyan would have to work for an entire week.

·      Dental clinicians – There are about a million practising dentists unevenly distributed around the world. They may be found in urban areas but there is a critical shortage in poor, remote areas.

·      Government healthcare funding – In some countries, government policies and the sheer number of people suffering with caries makes treatment virtually impossible. In India, the health budget is meagre for oral health and there is no fluoride policy. Moreover, preventive products like toothbrushes and toothpaste are classed as cosmetics and subject to hefty tax levies.

It’s frustrating to think that there are simple and cost-effective solutions for lifestyle change, which are not available to so many. A scheme that was introduced in Jamaica between 1987 and 1995 proved how simple a solution could be. The National Salt Foundation Program encouraged the country’s only salt provider to produce and sell only fluoridated salt. This led to an 87% decrease in schoolchildren’s dental caries, at a cost of just 6 cents per person, annually[4].
 

Benjamin Franklin’s famous quote “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure”, is a mantra that Darren Weiss, dentist and founder of the Humble Smile Foundation holds close to his heart.
 

“The focus on prevention became a practice philosophy for me,” said Weiss. “I was actively lecturing dentists about the value of prevention, but I was troubled with one thought – if I truly wanted to apply my preventive expertise, why wasn’t I based where it is of the greatest value?”
 

In light of this, Weiss collaborated with local dental professionals to design an oral health outreach programme, called Planet Smile. The focus was to promote preventive dentistry in parts of the world where the need is greatest. When he visited the Humble Brush stand at the 2015 International Dental Show and learned of their sustainable, biodegradable bamboo toothbrushes, he found a like-minded organisation with an inspirational, environmental and social vision. By working together, The Humble Smile Foundation was born. Now, for every Humble Brush sold, a physical toothbrush or equivalent oral care is given to someone in need overseas.
 

The Humble Brush Foundation recently joined forces with Assyrians Without Borders, a group to which they have donated toothbrushes assisting the charity’s aid to Syrian refugees in Turkey. With more programmes in the pipeline for Iraq and Syria, the work of the Humble Smile Foundation and Humble Brush continues to reach out to global communities suffering unimaginable hardship.
 

Contact Humble Brush today, to discover how you can effect change in the far-flung reaches of the world, without even leaving your surgery.

 

For more information about the Humble Brush visit www.humblebrush.co.uk or to find out more about the Humble Smile Foundation’s work visit www.humblesmile.org

 

Follow us on Facebook, HumblebrushUK 

and Twitter

@HumbleBrush

 

 



[1] World Health Organization – Oral Health Services. http://www.who.int/oral_health/action/services/en/ (Accessed 2/9/2015).

[2] World Health Organization – Oral Health Fact sheet no318, April 2012. http://www.who.int/mediacentre/factsheets/fs318/en/ (Accessed 2/9/2015)

[3] Journal of Dental Research. The Global Burden of Oral Conditions 1990-2010: A Systematic Analysis, June 2013. W. Marcenes, N.J. Kassebaum, E. Bernabé, A. Flaxman, M. Naghavi, A. Lopez and C.J.L. Murray J DENT RES 2013 92: 592 originally published online 29 May 2013. http://www.kcl.ac.uk/dentistry/research/divisions/population/Bernabe-JDR.pdf (Accessed 2/9/2015)

[4] Centre for Global Development. Case 18 Preventing Dental Careis in Jamaicahttp://www.cgdev.org/doc/millions/MS_case_18.pdf

 

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2946 Hits
JAN
17
2

Momentum added to the Big Lie campaign?

Momentum added to the Big Lie campaign?
After a couple of years, is there now some momentum behind the Big Lie campaign devised, proposed and propagated by Dr Tony Kilcoyne BDS, often using the columns of GDPUK, as well as using ITV Daybreak, Jeremy Vine Show on Radio 2, and the letters column of the Daily Telegraph.
 
The basis of the campaign is wide ranging and Dr Kilcoyne often talks about protected time, so that dental professionals can have adequate time with patients that is not constrained by overbearing pressures of targets which must be met, targets set by unaccountable NHS managers. In addition, his campaign always mentions the un-noticed aspect that the most likely reason for hospital admission in England for children between ages of 5 and 9 is the disease of dental decay, and those children need extractions of multiple teeth under general anaesthetic, which, for safety reasons, must only be provided in a hospital environment.
 
Medical and dental professionals must stop politicians pontificating on the NHS being free at the point of demand, and repeat again and again, in reality, the politicians run a finite, cash limited service with growing and open-ended demand. 
 
Other aspects of the campaign must be patient education, a tax on sugar drinks and confectionery to fund better dental care as well as discouraging use, as with cigarettes. In addition, the dental professional of this country must takes steps using public relations techniques to educate and win over the public so they know that adding fluoride in tiny quantities to public water supplies will benefit their children and future generations.
 
I find it amazing that despite the public image of dentists, we are the only group in favour of this latter measure, yet this would make less work for us in our high investment, high expense practices. Because we are professionals, and we see the damage caused, and our professionalism makes us draw attention to the widely ignored preventive message.
 
Last week [13th January 2015] the august body that is the Faculty of Dental Surgery of the Royal College of Surgeons released their thoughts on what is going wrong for the teeth of young children in England, in the form of a press release. This body is not one of the wildest of institutions, it is hundreds of years old, with roots going back to 1540. Its' leaders rise through an establishment process of professorial rank in a high achieving and multi-qualified professions. In effect, by publishing the concerns of the Royal College in this rare move, they have joined the clamour with a loud hailer from the tallest building - children are suffering with a preventable disease and un-necessary hospitalisation, but the Government is looking the other way.
 
In our highly developed United Kingdom, the sales of sugar, sweets and confectionery continue to rise. In fact between 2008 and 2013, when consumer spend has been squeezed in the UK, cumulative rise was only 2%, [source Mintel] despite a fall in that time in disposable real family income. Every year more millions are spent on these items, and the manufacturers, the supermarkets, the retailers churn it out. For students of economics, these confections are great value added products for the manufacturers and the rest. But the culture of ignorance, and the sad culture of avoiding and deriding the dentist, together with the inexorable rise in sales mean tooth decay is on the up, and hospital admissions increase.
 
Cynically we can joke and say we need a "sugar czar" but maybe the way forward for this campaign is for a high profile leader to enact established, proven concepts, increase regions with artificial fluoridation of water, increase education regarding the effects of sugar, and reduce sales of confectionery aimed at small children. In addition a change in attitude, promoting the concept that families who allow their children's teeth to rot are neglectful, this is a totally preventable disease and this knowledge is not new.
 
Let us hope that more dental bodies, in fact all dental bodies, come together to raise the profile of this health failure, and improve the national oral health of our children.
 
The children of dentists do not suffer this disease. Full stop.
 
Tony Jacobs
Dentist
Manchester
 
 
 
References and further reading:
  1. Royal College of Surgeons report January 2015
  2. Daily Telegraph letter 2014
  3. Daily Telegraph letter 2015
  4. Mintel market insight reports

Image acknowledgement

Running to Paradise Garden
by Nicolas Alejandro
https://www.facebook.com/nicolas.alejandro.ph  
Shown under Creative Commons licence

 

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